KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak escaped an assassination attempt on Saturday when gunmen opened fire on his vehicle shortly after he had left the airport by helicopter, the Defense Ministry said.
No one was hurt and the four gunmen — who were wearing military uniforms — were arrested, said ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi, describing the attack as a bungled attempt to assassinate the minister.
"The minister is safe. He had already left the airport by helicopter when the attack happened," he said.
A short time later, another helicopter which was heading to the Panjsher valley to the north of Kabul to collect officials who had been attending a memorial ceremony with Wardak, crash-landed after its rotor hit a tree.
Azimi said nobody was hurt in that incident.
Asked if the incidents were connected, he said he had no additional information.
The attack on the minister”s car came days before parliamentary and provincial elections scheduled for September 18, the next big step in Afghanistan”s difficult path to stability.
The minister traveled to the Panjsher Valley with other officials to attend a ceremony in remembrance of Afghan national hero Ahmad Shah Masood, who was assassinated on September 9, 2001.